Rapid Fire Ideas: 100 Ways To Soar in Luxury Facilitated by Andy Stuart
Tip #1:FREE resource for entrepreneurs and small business SCORE (www.score.org) • Boasts 13,000 volunteers and 350 chapters nationwide. • Volunteers are successful entrepreneurs and executives who give back by sharing their expert business advice with others. • Opt for in-person or online counseling. Or, check out their online courses, tools and templates.
Tip # 2:Ask your dentist if you can put up a cruise poster • Place it on the ceiling of the office, or on the walls. • Patients can dream about a cruise or vacation while having a root canal.
Tip #3:Book your high school or college reunion • Nothing gets a group headed for a party like nostalgia. • Even when a reunion is planned on land, pitch a group cruise after the fact to those who want to vacation together. • You’ll have a ready made database list, and people who had a great time at the reunion may be eager to reunite in six months to a year on a tropical cruise.
Tip #4:Give your clients a video about the cruise line or resort when they place a deposit • They will probably show friends and neighbors where they are going. You might get additional business.
Tip #5:Set a goal to call three customers every day before 11 a.m. • Set up a book to chart your progress and goals. • FYI, this can just be as easy as calling to wish them a happy birthday, or telling them you’re having a cruise night next month and to save the date.
Tip #6:Send Thanksgiving cards and suggest your clients get warm on a cruise • Your card arriving at that time will have more impact than the standard holiday card. • Include a simple holiday gift promotion – your clients give a cruise vacation gift certificate to loved ones who then cruise next year!
Tip #7:Become a Notary Public • You can pick up the traffic the banks are sending away. • Presto, the people are in the door and you might pick up new clients.
Tip #8:Check with an outdoor advertising company about prominent billboards near your agency • Commuters sitting at a traffic light waiting for it to change might be attracted by a photo of a couple having fun on a cruise. • If you opt to create a billboard, keep it simple and have a dynamic visual. • For example, just say Get Away NOW! Show a picture of a tropical island or cruise, and then list your agency name, your Web site, and a street address or a directional tag line “Just off I-75 at Exit 32”
Tip #9:Toot your own horn • When a staff member achieves a certification or specialist designation such as becoming a CLIA Master Cruise Counselor, destination specialist, luxury resort expert or cruise line specialist, write a two paragraph press release. • Send to local community newspapers, advertisers and chamber of commerce/business organizational newsletters. • They may only run a line but your business name gets exposure to readers.
Tip #10:Trade links or online advertisements • Offer to trade Web site links or online advertisements with non-competitive businesses in your area.
Case Study 1: Travel for a Cause • We partnered with Susan G Komen and promoted a "Cruise for the Cure.“ • We promoted the cruise at fitness expos that were held for other races and events supporting the same cause. The Susan G Komen organization promoted the cruise in their publications. • By partnering with a cruise line, money from each booking was donated to the organization, and we came away with a large group booking. • The organization raised approximately $5000 and our group booking consisted of 24 bookings, 18 of which were new clients.
Tip #11:If your city or town has a parade, enter • Create a simple float (a car pulling a flat-bed will do) have staff dress in resort attire, show the fun of a tropical holiday with a pseudo pool, deck chairs, palm trees, etc. • Throw out a giveaway – a piece or two of candy is fine – to the crowd, along with your business card.
Tip #12:Work with a high school to promote travel as a career choice • Talk about the perks, benefits and value of being a travel consultant or operating a travel business. • Set up an open house day for interested students to tour your agency with their parents to learn more. • Don’t hard sell on this day; instead, get to know the parents. • Begin to cultivate them for future business by adding to your direct mail or other promotional efforts.
Tip #13:Be visible as an expert in your area • Create a blog about your business or your travels. • Or ask a local advertising flyer or community newspaper if they would like a free travel column. • Talk with a local community radio station about the possibility of a local travel show you’d host. • Explore the possibilities. If nothing else, you might find a pied piper to host a group cruise or resort stay.
Tip #14:Create an employee incentive or, if you’re a front-line agent, ask your manager to consider one • The agency can be creative and develop an incentive that meets its needs and work flow. • For example, bring in five new contacts to the agency every day for a week and win a free dinner at a local restaurant. As a bonus, if one of those contacts buys a travel product that’s more than $1,000, the employee receives a “paid” half day off from work at a future time.
Tip #15:“The Second Time” • An estimated 99 % of companies marketing products or services make one huge mistake. They spend money on an advertisement or inquiry generation program, and when they receive a highly qualified lead, they mail a brochure and a letter. • The biggest mistake is not contacting a well qualified buyer who has expressed an interest in your product “a second time” with harder-hitting additional marketing material or letters.
Tip #16:Increase your odds for direct mail response by including a self-addressed, stamped or postage paid envelope. • Remember to ask the right questions in that direct mail response. • The client might not be interested in the offers you send, but if you ask “what would be your dream vacation,” or “when do you think you might consider a vacation in 2011?” you might learn important intel to help you pitch in the future.
Tip #17:Tell a story • Tell potential clients a story about the travel product you are selling. • This establishes a relationship, makes the transaction “human” and focuses their attention on the potential for a vacation experience that delivers intangible value – such as family bonding or enrichment.
Tip #18:Continue to “talk" to your potential clients“after” they say no • Often a "no" is really a "not now." Maybe now isn’t the time but next spring might be. • Send a note thanking them for their time, even if they said no. So keep calling and communicating. • Build the relationship for future business.
Tip #19:Keep it simple • Giving clients a zillion choices only confuses clients and makes the decision making difficult, or impossible. • No more than two or three options are preferable. The easier it is for a potential customer to make a choice, the more likely they are going to make it
Tip #20:Make your agency services “extra special” • Make every contact with a customer something “extra special” and your clients will take notice. • Tell them you’ll drop off their documents at their home, offer them a cup of gourmet coffee, give them a supplier tee-shirt, offer to call around and find the best limo pricing for a ride to the airport, or tell them you’ll stay open a bit longer than normal so they can stop by after hours when they get off work. • Not only will they come back for more, they’ll tell their friends.
Tip #21:Don’t be afraid to advertise your popularity with customers and potential customers • Use download counters, comment counts and subscriber numbers in prominent places on your Web site or social networking page. • People like to spend money with experts and businesses that others value and patronize. Of course, first make sure the stats are high enough to warrant a little bragging!
Tip #22:Good Resource – www.JustSell.com • Fields sales articles and tips • Forum for asking questions • Information about best practices • One article shows you how to get past “the gatekeeper” at a business, and really talk to the decision-maker.
Tip #23:Ask open-ended questions in the qualifying process • Ask a question, such as “Can you help me understand a bit about what your family would consider the perfect vacation? Then shut up. • Don’t prompt, don’t interrupt, don’t comment. Just listen. • Let the potential customers give you his or her answer. You may garner great nuggets of knowledge for future targeted promotions.
Tip #24:Great resource if you own your own business is www.entrepreneur.com • Great tips and articles • Resources for sales, marketing and business operations
Tip #25:Create a catchy tagline for your business • Let it help tell your story and what your value proposition is.
Tip #26:Be sure your business phone voice recording reflects what you want it to • Which would you prefer as a customer? • Which sets you up as a fun expert they want to chat with?
Tip #27: Review your automatic email “I’m out” messages • Some are just plain boring, and don’t tell the client anything. • This “auto message” received from an agency a few months ago is real and gives a whole different picture to potential clients. It shows the agency owner’s passion for his business • Thank you for your interest in the extraordinary services of XYZ Travel Agency. I am currently away from the office escorting an extreme bike group to the South of France. Heck if Lance Armstrong can do it, why not us?! Upon my return I will once again be favorably positioned to make all your travel dreams a reality. I will return to my pulpit on August 8th and look forward to being your virtual “on ramp” to the world of excitement and opportunity. If this matter requires immediate attention, though, please direct your requests to Jane Doe Smith (email address). And thank you for the opportunity to be of service. Carry On! XYZ Agency Owner
Tip #28:Display scrapbooks of past vacations or cruises in your office • Ask your clients to bring back pictures from their cruises to contribute to the scrapbooks. • Display the pictures in your office. • This shows that you have experience and expertise – as well as very happy and satisfied clients who had a great trip on their vacation. • Run a contest for the best vacation photos with your existing clients.
Tip #29:Avoiding “shoppers” • Safari Specialist Michael Distler requests a non-refundable trip planning deposit of $500.00 which is later applied to the client’s final payment. • This ensures him that the client is serious as well as committed to him in moving forward with a time consuming planning process. • This has proven hugely successful and eliminated many travelers who are requesting suggested itineraries from multiple agents (often resulting in them booking on own).
Tip #30:Supplier partnerships • Choose your partners wisely and establish a good working relationship. • Most will be happy to assist you with having special requests met, making you look like the rock star. • On the other hand, a poor experience with no follow up to make things “right” with that guest, could lose you a great lifetime client.
Case Study 2: Hold a themed event that relates to a particular destination • Ultimately, a traveler is going to include more regions in their itinerary, but having a focus to the event sparks interest in prospective clients. • We recently held an Australian wine event where we teamed up with the South Australia Tourism Commission and other Australian suppliers, as well as a local wine shop that sells Australian wine. • The shop provided the event space at no cost and the supplier partners covered the food and wine expense so the cost to us was $0. • Of the 60 attendees, over 1/2 were new prospective clients that were invited by the wine store.
Tip #31:Technology • Staying competitive entails many things, but there is no substitute for customer service in our industry. • “Train” your clients on the hours you work and when you are available, but if you have not yet made the switch – a cell with email capabilities is essential to keeping an eye on after hours emergencies, short timeframe bookings and perhaps an around the world private jet trip that you may want to respond to right away.
Tip #32:Local Partnerships • Evaluate your surroundings, who is most active in the community and who travels most. • Clubs, organizations or just like minded people are great for group business. Perhaps your church or religious organization puts together a getaway every year. • Why aren’t you booking those 40 cabins or rooms?
Tip #33:Use social media • Promote business, expertise and travel offers daily via Facebook and Twitter.
Tip #34:Join a networking group in your area • Find a group where the focus is generating referrals and watch your business grow!
Tip #35:Give away a subscription to a travel publication • As a door prize, at a charity event donation or a gift to a client like Virtuoso Life or Travel + Leisure. • Use this as a reason to follow up (i.e. call or e-mail the client saying, "did you see the xx article in this month's issue? It reminded me of your interest in traveling to xx").
Tip #36:Ask clients to write testimonials of your services • Encourage them to include photos from their trip. • Post these to your website or Linked In page.
Tip #37:Utilize honeymoon clients • Encourage honeymoon clients to post your contact information on their wedding website for guests wishing to purchase gifts or tours for the newlyweds to enjoying while on their honeymoon. • This gives you the opportunity to develop relationship with the wedding guest, who could potentially become a client.
Tip #38:“Let’s do lunch” • Ask a client to lunch and have them bring a friend or 2 to chat about travel.
Tip #39:Call every client who travels with you the week they return from their trip • Call them to say “Welcome Home.” • Thank them for their business. • Ask for their feedback. • Remind them that you value them as a client and will be more than happy to assist in planning their next vacation.
Tip #40:ASK for referrals, and set up a referral program • Ask your clients if they have friends or family members that may be interested in a cruise vacation. • For any referral that leads to a new booking give them a gift card to the store of their choice – or more $$ in credits to use towards future travel plans they may have.
Tip #41:Make one morning or afternoon a week‘Group Time’ • Work on outbound calls, mailings, even internet research on potential affinity and or common interest groups. • Do not answer the phone or any new e-mails for an hour and ONLY do the proactive group planning activities that will help you find and cultivate new groups.
Tip #42:Use your business card everywhere • It’s the most economical form of advertising • Pay the toll of the car behind you and ask the toll taker to give them your card. • Leave it with your tip in restaurants. • Put it on the community bulletin board at local grocery store.
Tip #43:Create an “advisory board” • Have agents call their top 5 clients and ask them to become an “advisory board.” • Meet every two months to discuss destinations and act as a focus group.
Tip #44:Require front line staff to make 5 telephone call outs to either past clients or new clients • Follow up with a HANDWRITTEN NOTE/POSTCARD. • Postage is cheap, but the handwriting will stand out in today’s computerized world!
Tip #45:Order FREE postcards from travel suppliers • Handwrite 5 personal notes everyday and send to your client base, friends and family. • It’s all about making sure they contact you for the greatest new specials and reminded them to book their vacations early. • Always have something in front of them at least 4 times a year and this feels personal. • That’s 25 a week 100 each month feel free to send more but get in the habit of sending at least 5 a day.